AK-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club just south of Phoenix, Arizona: Looking better than ever

MARICOPA, Ariz. -- There are still plenty of bunkers and plenty of length at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, but now there's more room in the fairways, and an opportunity to practice your game.

The course, which was designed and renovated by Schmidt-Curley design with Fred Couples consulting, remains one of the best daily fees in Arizona after a 2014 renovation that reduced the bunkering by 83,000 square feet, widened the landing areas and provided an expanded practice area that now includes a short course called Mini Dunes.

There are still, however, more than 100 bunkers on the course, many of them quite difficult. Fortunately, six sets of tees make Ak-Chin Southern Dunes player friendly for all levels, especially the forward tees, which allow shorter hitters to find the speed slots to set up shorter approaches.

The biggest change on the course probably came on the par-3 17th, which used to play as long as 240 yards with a blind shot to the back of a huge green. Now the 17th, which is heavily bunkered, plays to a smaller green with a maximum distance of 204 yards.

The golf course is still long at 7,546 yards from the tips, but does play firm and fast.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, which has sort of an Australian links look, originally opened as an all-male private club, but was purchased in 2010 by the Ak-Chin Indian community -- which owns the nearby Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino and the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle. Managed by Troon Golf, there's not a home to be seen anywhere from the course.

Feb 18, 2015

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Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trio to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.